A Basket of Trouble
Review: When gift-basket designer Claire Hanover's brother Charley decides to open a horse trail riding center near her home in Colorado Springs, she's thrilled. But when one of the trail guides is found dead, presumably stomped to death by one of the horses, she's concerned that the center may close as quickly as it opened, in A Basket of Trouble, the third mystery in this series by Beth Groundwater.
Kyle Mendoza is found in the stall of Gunpowder, one of the stable's edgier horses but not one to violently kick someone to death. Indeed, an autopsy report indicates that Kyle was hit over the head with a blunt object smaller than a horse's hoof, though he may have been alive when he was place in Gunpowder's stall and the horse may have finished the job for the killer. Charley, already on thin financial ice, knows that the adverse publicity will hurt business, but cooperates in every way he can with the police investigation. Things, however, take a turn for the worse when the stable wrangler, Gil Kaplan, is found shot to death in his car. Was Gil involved in Kyle's death and took his own life in a moment of remorse? Or are, as Claire suspects, the deaths of the two men completely unrelated?
Readers looking for a cozy involving baskets may be a little disappointed here, as A Basket of Trouble, despite its title, really has nothing to do with Claire's craft. Gift baskets make an appearance here and there but the scenes in which they do seem almost forced, as if they are required given the premise of the series as a whole. Rather, this is a well-structured murder mystery set on the grounds of a stable and involves, indeed requires, a horse to help solve the crime. There are plenty of credible suspects, from the stable crew to its local competition. The human characters are a little two-dimensional, however, and never seem fully realized, in contrast to the equine characters, which really make the story come to life. The setting, too, is well drawn and provides a strong backdrop to the action. Claire draws the right conclusions at the right time to solve the murders, but the motives seem a little weak and not completely thought out. Still, this is a generally enjoyable if not exactly memorable entry in this series.
Acknowledgment: Midnight Ink provided an eARC of A Basket of Trouble for this review.
Review Copyright © 2014 — Hidden Staircase Mystery Books — All Rights Reserved
Selected reviews of other mysteries by this author …
Midnight Ink (Trade Paperback), May 2012
ISBN-13: 9780738721637; ISBN-10: 0738721638
Location(s) referenced in A Basket of Trouble: Colorado
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A Basket of Trouble by Beth Groundwater — A Claire Hanover Mystery
Publisher: Midnight Ink
Format: Trade Paperback
Publication Date: November 2013
List Price: $14.99
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Page Author: Lance Wright
Site Publisher: Mysterious Reviews
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